0verhyped

Less than amusing ramblings from a jaded former gamer.

Today’s Splendor is Tomorrow’s Nostalgia

Forty amazing hits by the original artists all for $19.99!

A.K.A. HOW NOSTALGIA AFFECTS YOUR TASTES BEFORE SOMETHING EVEN BECOMES NOSTALGIC

Why can’t I just think every game released is super great like most gamers do? As I said before, I’m not going out of my way to dislike or find fault with most of the big games that come out. I only play them because I thought I would enjoy them. I never go into a game thinking “This is going to suck, and I’m going to prove it to people by playing it until I can prattle off an entire list of reasons it sucks.” I just want to be entertained. If I play a game I suspect I won’t like, I much rather be proven wrong and be pleasantly surprised, because being right means I’ll be playing something I find boring.

But, with some exceptions, I don’t enjoy most acclaimed games like most gamers seem to claim they do. I don’t think this is because I’m older and less interested in games, because even when I was younger and still into games I often found myself surprised to hear certain games I thought were only okay were actually critically lauded masterpieces. Is there something wrong with me? Well yeah, my psychologist and chiropractor could both tell you that, but I don’t think it’s my various mental imbalances and back problems causing this disconnect.

My problem is I’m not part of the craze all these other kids are into. I’m just not part of their click, and I guess I’m not the only one. There’s actually an entire group of gamers out there who only play old style games, like the original Super Mario Bros. or VVVVVV, which despite being made in the 21st century was modeled after Commodore 64 games. Typically these people just call themselves Retro Gamers. I’m not really a part of their click either though.

But I find it odd when retro gamers are accused of only liking old games because of the “nostalgia filter”, which basically means a bias towards things you liked when you were young. The hilariously ironic thing is a lot of the people making this accusation don’t realize the games they love right now will be the same ones future generations will accuse of being seen through a nostalgia filter.

So let me explain a little more about what I mean when I say nostalgia filter. The concept of the nostalgia filter is the things you enjoy when you’re young and impressionable tend to make such a lasting impact that it creates a bias towards them that you might not even be aware of.

It’s the thing that makes you defensive when someone knocks what was your favorite cartoon as a kid or makes you dismissive of other people’s favorite cartoons you didn’t see as a kid. Anytime you hear someone say “In my day…’ and then prattle on about how much better things were, they’re probably looking at something with the nostalgia filter in full effect.

Now that doesn’t mean every time someone says something older was better it’s the nostalgia talking, sometimes it might actually be better. For a personal example, Norelco razors were better when I was younger because they didn’t make their razors in China. When they made the switch and I had to replace my razor, I found out Chinese manufacturing doesn’t have the same quality control as the Dutch because their new razors managed to tear up my face without actually cutting any of the hair on it.

And that’s not even considering there’s no accounting for taste and beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that jazz. But for the sake of discussion, let’s just accept that people do sometimes harbor an unusual fondness for things they grew up with. The stuff you enjoy in your youth tends to leave a lasting impression, and if a lot of your friends and family were into it, the fond memories are probably that much stronger.

But when do you really stop growing up? I think some people believe that the cut-off for things you could possibly later view as nostalgic is childhood or adolescence. That once you hit your twenties you become a “grown-up”. Now you’re not so young and impressionable that you could ever possibly buy into something that really isn’t all that special or great. Your tastes have matured and what you’re into now is clearly just awesome, and not because you’ve been swept up in a fad or anything.

Woot! To being old enough to make our own decisions!

Yeah, in my experience both with other people my age and my own life kinda suggest that most twenty-somethings still really don’t know all that much, (I’m including myself here. Seriously, no clue what I’m talking about. You should just stop reading right now.) You have a lot more freedom and responsibility as a twenty-something than you do as teenager, but I find most people at this age really aren’t above fads and other trends yet. They just buy into different trends and fads.

What do I mean about this? Well, I think a lot of young adults are actually interested in the same things they are as kids, they just want “grown up” versions of them now. Like maybe a girl who liked playing dress up with dolls wants real dresses when she gets older, or a boy going from toy cars to the real thing. Adults like to play with toys too, they just want better toys, and deny they’re playing with toys. Something like the iPad always seems to be used as a toy no matter what the age of the user, even if the users would deny it.

I don’t think I’m the only one who notices this trend either. Big companies in the entertainment industry also notice that young adults really aren’t that different from kids when it comes to selling stuff, you just got to tinker with your product a little to appeal to them, but it can be mostly the same thing otherwise. Don’t believe me?

Nun, nuh, nun, something something, more than meets the eye. Whatever…

Yeah, Transformers, those oversold Michael Bay movies that have made a few gazillion dollars. Tell me, honestly, what really is the difference between the movies and the old cartoon they were based on? I’m genuinely curious because I’ve never really been into either, but from my perspective, the only major difference is the cartoon was crafted to appeal to a slightly younger crowd than the movies.

I’m bringing up Transformers as an example because the Nostalgic Critic recently did a video comparing the cartoons to the movies. Typically his shtick, when he’s not ripping into awful movies, is talking about nostalgic things and trying to critique them without the benefit of the nostalgia filter. Yet in his Transformers review he seemed to keep dissing the movies without coming up with a whole lot of reasons why the cartoon was so much better. He admitted the cartoon didn’t really haven’t great characters or stories either, just that it was “ours”, or something.

Honestly I think the Transformers movies and cartoon really aren’t all that different. The draw is giant robots fighting, biggest difference is the stuff that isn’t fighting robots had been changed to better suit slightly different audiences. In the old cartoon I believe these are the main human characters.

Normally I’d make a smart ass comment here, but the Transformers Wiki I got this picture from was so loaded with snide remarks that I’m kinda at a loss.

Spark and Spike Witwicky, not sure which is which, but the fatter one is the smaller one’s dad. Basically the main human character was a young teenage boy and, to a lesser extent, his father. Probably because the show was aimed at young boys. Browsing through the TransFormers wiki (because everything ever has its own Wikipedia now), the young Witwicky was fourteen and, when not involved with giant fighting robots, did mostly average fourteen old boy stuff like learn to play football or having a perfectly innocent G-rated relationship with a girl named Carly.

What about the Michael Bay movies? Who are the main humans in them?

Every Michael Bay movie comes with a guarantee that no scene will remain undetonated.

Here you have Sam Witwicky and his girlfriend Megan’s Fox Character (Later replaced by a Victoria Secret model in Transformers 3.) Basically the main human character is an older teenage boy and, to a lesser extent, his hot girlfriend. Probably because these movies are aimed at older teenage to early twenty something boys. From what little I didn’t blank out during my viewing of the Transformer films, I seem to remember Sam was a senior in high school (later college student in the sequels) and, when not involved with giant robots, he’s doing young man stuff like trying to save up money for a car and having a not at all innocent PG-13 relationship with whichever girl is currently in the movie.

For someone like me, who didn’t grow up on Transformers, the movies just seemed to be the same kind of entertainment as the cartoon, just with the frivolous content scaled to a higher age group. BumbleBee goes from a cute VW Bug to a kick ass Camaro. The girlfriend is the main supporting human character, where as the dad is now just a minor character, probably because older teenage to early twenty something boys are more interested in girls than their parents anymore. And the action is made a lot more destructive and expensive, because kids love expensive and destructive shit, and the older kids really love really expensive and really destructive shit.

Basically some Hollywood executives just tweaked the formula from the cartoon until it appealed to an age group with more disposable income. The reasons companies covet the 18-35 demographic so much is because that’s the age where people are old enough to make and spend their own money freely but are still young and impressionable enough to sell shit to. Like I said in another post, as you get older you become more stubborn and less willing to try new things. People over 35 make and spend money too, but they’re more cautious about how they spend it. Probably because they spent a lot of it on stupid shit when they were 18-35.

So I’m about twenty paragraphs in and haven’t mentioned what the fuck any of this has to do with games or all that much with the nostalgia filter even. Now seems just right to sum everything up in a single sentence that I probably should have just used three pages ago. I think a lot of of the big acclaimed games coming out nowadays will be the same games future generations accuse of being seen through a nostalgia filter.

No, seriously. Think about it, the nostalgia filter means you look back and think something is great, but you must have also thought it was great when it came out or you wouldn’t have any fond memories to look back on. The nostalgia filter is just a form of hindsight, the actual games don’t change, people just had more time to think about them after the initial rush wears off. Think I’m crazy, don’t you imaginary person I always assume is thinking I’m crazy? Well I’ll prove it to you, even if you are just a figment of my imagination.

Let’s looks at the Genesis collection I posted at the top of the page. It was a collection of most (not all) of the games published by Sega and released on the Sega Genesis. The Sonic series, The Golden Axe series, Comix Zone, Columns, Alex Kidd, Phantasy Star II-IV, Vector Man, Ecco the Dolphin, fuck there’s a lot of games on this thing!

A lot of these games were big deals back in the day. Metacritic and GameFAQS really don’t track reviews from that time period, probably because there was no internet and they don’t feel like digging up and scanning a lot of old gaming magazines just so I can make a point, but I did find this scan from an EGM Magazine.

Magazines were sorta like a proto-internet that you’d could only use once a month.

Wow, Streets of Rage must have kicked ass. It got a 9 out of 10 from all four reviewers, and beat out Nintendo’s F-Zero game and Final Fight. That’s just one game, its sequels are on this collection to. And I know the Sonic games got great reviews. I’m pretty sure things like Comix Zone also got good reviews. With so many great games crammed onto one disc at a discount price, I imagine the Ultimate Genesis collection got incredible reviews.

Oh, well, that’s not bad, I guess. For a massive collection of games that were considered great for their day… Well maybe it’s just the gaming critics are kinda harsh. They’re comparing these games to all the newest stuff. It’s got a 9.0 from Metacritic users, all twenty of them who bothered to score it. I bet customer reviews at Amazon would be more thrilled to…

Oh, shit. Really? That’s like the same average the critics had. What happened? A lot of these games were considered amazing back in the day. I know a lot has changed, but there are FORTY games on there, and a lot of them were considered great games in their own right back in the day.

Someone might argue the gaming medium has simply come a long way since then and standards change. I don’t necessarily disagree, but even during an art form’s primitive times there tends to be great art anyways. The silent film era gave us Metropolis and classic Charlie Chaplin films like Modern Times to name a few.

But still, there are a LOT more acclaimed movies from the talkie and color era than the silent film era. Excluding how advances in the industry added to movies, more people entered the film making industry during those time periods, meaning there were more artists, and that meant more possible masterpieces in the making.

So the 16-bit era may have been a little like the end of the silent film era. A perfected old bygone era that was about to be replaced with major technological innovations that changed everything. Video games were still a small industry and were still experimenting a lot back then. So maybe it is only natural that a lot of the acclaimed games from that era haven’t aged well. Let’s jump ahead. There’s a DreamCast collection out there too, which was Sega’s last home console. The games on it probably benefited from the ten years worth of innovation and are still considered great to this…


Holy shit! I know there’s only four games, but these were four well received games just a decade ago. Well, maybe this just isn’t a good collection. There were a lot of better games on the DreamCast that didn’t get included. Maybe Sega was just bundling up their lesser DreamCast games and critics just called them on it. Let’s stop looking at collections and look at a single game.

Remember Halo? Yeah, that was a big deal, I’m told, I really didn’t notice myself. But it got stellar reviews and was a defining game for the first XBOX. Its series is a massive seller and its still around selling lots of games with new titles. It was also praised for its innovations like recharging health, a specific button for grenades and vehicles. When it released it averaged a 97/100 from 68 reviews according to Metacritic.

In commemoration of its tenth anniversary, Microsoft re-released Halo with updated graphics at the discount price of $40. I’m sure this classic with a fresh coat of paint was met with…


Really? That’s not a bad score or anything, but that seems a little low for such a major game. Well maybe customer…

Oh come the fuck on, them too? What the hell happened? I know it’s been a decade, but Halo was a massive game when it was released. And this is the same game with a few add-ons and modern graphics. Some people were complaining about the mutliplayer, but the original Halo didn’t even have online mutliplayer when it came out. It was splitscreen and LAN only.

Well what about something even newer that didn’t have nearly as much mainstream appeal. One of those critically acclaimed games that only has modest sales, how bout Metroid Prime 3? It averaged a 90 when it was released. Then Nintendo came out with the Metroid Prime Trilogy. That was all three Metroid Primes on one disc for one price. And the first two have been updated with a new control scheme, each game got some extra add-ons, it came in one of those big fancy collector’s tins that gamers seem to like so much, and it was the same price as a normal game. Considering the original prime had near perfect reviews I’d expect…

Are you shitting me? A collection of a whole trilogy of critical darlings gets only a marginally higher score than the lowest rated game in the trilogy? It’s a trilogy of loved games in one package with bonus features, modern improvements, some bug fixes, balance tweaks and is in a fancy collector’s box at normal price. That’s the kind of stupid shit gamers drool over. Why is it rated lower than the first two games in the series which are fucking included with this collection?

And it’s not even really that old this time. Metroid Prime came out November of 2002, and the Prime Trilogy came out in August 24th, 2009. That’s a little less than seven years, and Prime 3 only came out two years ago.

Now to be clear, I don’t expect game reviewers to be omnipresent gods that once and forever cement their status on whatever they review into history. They’re only human. But this trend of slowly but surely marking down games after giving them rave reviews tends to be indicative to me that a lot of game reviewers (and gamers in general) get so wrapped in trends that they really aren’t thinking clearly when they review games.

The nostalgia filter doesn’t make things look better, it just maintains those feelings you had for something when it first came out. Remember, these Metacritic scores are just averages of what reviewers give things. A lot of the reviews for the anniversary version of Halo were pretty much the same high marks it got ten years ago. But there were also more critical reviews this time that brought down the average. These probably came from people not buying into the nostalgia, or weren’t even part of the original Halo spectacle.

Fans of the original will only see him in his glory days as they did 10 years ago, but modern gamers will see the rotten body for what it is and will, hopefully, stay away.

Ouch. If it weren’t for the fact he still gave it a 7/10, you’d think he didn’t like it or something. I imagine this is one of the reasons gamers are so quick to demand remakes and HD reskins. So it’ll be easier to maintain the nostalgia filter if the graphics are kept up to date. Seem to remember someone reviewing the 3DS version of Ocarina of Time, which did get a graphics update, and said it now looked “as good as you seem to remember it”. Nostalgia can be a powerful thing.

I’ve also noticed the later a review comes out, the higher the odds it will be a low score, or just not a really really high score. People who take their time to review something might think twice about branding something the next big thing in gaming.

Even when reviewers don’t attempt to be thoughtful, they still end up reflecting on the games they play in between releases in the same series. Both Halo and Metroid Prime have been getting slowly descending scores as their series have progressed, probably because in between each installment people had time to get use to them and the excitement wore off a little.

Something like Black & White, one of Peter Molyneux’s game, has a 90 on Metacritic. It’s sequel, which was released four years later, has only a 75, despite the fact it sounds like it was a mostly improved version of the last game. Pretty big drop, what happened? Well, probably in those four years a lot of those reviewers had time to reflect on Black & White and realize it wasn’t so hot. Don’t believe me? Well here’s a quote from the lowest review of the first Black & White.

Once I made it past that initial stage of astonishment, I made an unfortunate discovery: the single-player game, as designed, just isn’t much fun in the long term.” -Gaming Age (The link to actual review is busted)

Long term is the key word here. Whoever wrote that review took enough time to get past the initial excitement to give it a more a thorough critical review. When Black & White came out it got rave reviews. GameSpy gave it a 9.1 and called it “One of the most unique — and enjoyable — strategy games we’ve seen this year.” Then two years later they declared it the most overrated game of all time. People bitching about stuff being overrated is pretty typical talk for stuck up assholes (like me), but just one thing, THESE WERE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY RATED IT TO BEGIN WITH!

“We would know, because we’re the ones who overrated them.”

The same website who said Black & White was amazing went on to say it was one of the most overrated game of all time, and just two years later no less. I also heard IGN later went on to say it was overrated despite originally giving it a near perfect score. To GameSpy’s credit, they did fess up to the fact that they got caught in the hype and were part of the problem. One of their editors even said something that I feel is really indicative of this kind of recurring problem in the gaming media.

Sometimes, though, people want to love a game so badly that its reputation runs away with itself.”

There you have it. GameSpy writers admitting that people get so caught up in an idea it tends to cloud their judgement. But here’s the thing that gets me. Black & White isn’t all that well loved today as far as I know. Reading people’s comments, it sounds like it was a boring game modeled around an ambitious idea that the developer couldn’t get to work. But what if it’s a half-way decent game with an idea that people fall in love with? Well that’s where it gets really damn hard to get an un-bias opinion not tainted by nostalgia or hype.

That same GameSpy list naming Black & White the most overrated game of all time has another 24 games preceding it. Games like Metal Gear Solid 2, Halo, Super Mario Sunshine, Morrowind, Final Fantasy VII, Donkey Kong Country, Mortal Kombat (the first one), Battle Toads. Yeah, the list tends to jump around all over the place. But reading the comments GameSpy editors make, it is clear most of them don’t think these are bad games, just that they had been overrated. Basically good games that have been mistakenly labeled as amazing games. One editor even said he loved the original Halo, but thought its scores were greatly inflated because he felt there was a lot of room for improvement.

I’m not presenting this as evidence that all these games are overrated, I’m just pointing that it is common for game reviewers and gamers to get over excited for new games, only to come down later and realize they were overreacting. So here’s the question I ask anyone reading this. How many of these modern games that are getting all these game of the year awards and 9.8’s or whatever are actually going to stand the test of time? In twenty years, how many of these games will people still want to play, and how many will be ones that gamers bore children with insisting that in their day this was a big deal?

“No really, BioShock was a great game when I was your age.”
“Sure Grandpa, whatever you say. I’m gonna go play in my holodeck.”

I’ve said before I don’t expect everything to be art and that there’s a lot value in just being entertaining. My problem is far too many games get advertised as these amazing milestones in gaming. That’s where the name 0verhyped comes from, I felt like I was drowning in a sea of mindless praise. Almost every game is apparently incredible and reviewers these days like to hand out high marks like their candy at Halloween.

But almost any time I’d try them it would never be like how gamers and game critics described them. For me, someone who’s not part of their peer groups, these games just seem like decent games with better graphics. I really don’t think many people will actually remember a lot of these supposedly great games in another decade or so, unless they were there at its release and the nostalgia filter is in effect. Especially when a lot of games this generation seem to be the same thing as last generation, just aged up.

Remember that whole Transformers thing I mentioned earlier that seemed really off-topic at the time? About how companies re-tool the same entertainment so it appeals to different crowds? Well I think that’s what most of the big players in the gaming industry are doing right now. They’re making mostly the same crap, just making it more appealing to older teenagers and twenty somethings instead of kids and pre-teens.

Capcom used to be famous for Mega Man and the Street Fighter series. Then during the Playstation era they started to became famous for Resident Evil as well, but they still made Mega Man and Street Fighter games. This generation they’ve pretty much regulated Mega Man to spin-offs and are more famous for Resident Evil and Dead Rising and other zombie killing crap. It took them forever to release a new Street Fighter and they almost seemed surprised people still wanted games in that series, and they still made sure to give it a more “edgy” look than previous Street Fighters.

This image contains so much testosterone that looking at it might provoke you to bite the head off the nearest small animal you can find.

Since a lot of the same people who followed games are older now, it seems like a lot of games are trying to take themselves more serious in an attempt to conceal the fact they’re now pandering to a slightly older demographic who are more self conscious about enjoying “kiddie” things, like fun. Because as all adults know, once you hit a certain age, you can never enjoy things meant for kids ever again, or…uh, the adjustment bureau comes and, let’s say, erases you from history, or something.

A big chunk of this generation has been devoted to retooling the same entertainment to better suit the sensibilities of people who are slowly becoming self conscious about twiddling their thumbs on a controller with brightly colored buttons or awkwardly tapping away on a keyboard normally used to write things just to cause virtual people to run around and kill other virtual people. These people don’t actually want new entertainment, they just want their old entertainment dressed up so it’s not so obvious they’re just fucking around on a video game.

BioWare made Mass Effect, which was a lot like Knights of the Old Republic if it had a stick up its ass the entire game. No more hilarious assassin droids or jaded ex-padawans with crazy tales, this game is serious game for serious adults. Grand Theft Auto IV did away with its “childish” things and a million other things to make room for big serious important plot about a man in a hard spot trying to survive in America. Resident Evil 5 ditched a lot of the cheesy dialogue and over the top death traps you find in Resident Evil 4 so it’ll be a more respected game, about shooting zombies. And Bomberman got a whole new bad ass look.

Wait, bad ass? I meant hilariously awful!

Okay so that last one didn’t go over too well, but it was the same idea. The Bomberman people were probably just a generation behind. Last generation was the time for extreme characters that look like they came from a 90’s comic book. Now the same people want serious “arty” looking games, just so long as those serious arty games are mostly the same as the games from last generation.

Grand Theft Auto IV’s “Oscar Worthy Dialogue” doesn’t prelude the fact that you mostly just run around and kill people. In Mass Effect you’re still solving people’s problems and killing other people in between like in KOTOR, just everything is trying to pretend it’s a big damn deal now. Resident Evil is still all about killing zombies and monsters, but now they don’t draw attention to how silly a game where you run around shooting monsters can be.

I think the reason I can’t get into most of these new games is because, for whatever reason, I skipped ahead to the “I’m old and stubborn and don’t buy anything anyone sells me” phase of a person’s life about a decade ahead of schedule. I’m not above falling into fads or the nostagila filter, I just became self-aware of it sooner than some people. I used to love the old Grand Theft Auto games, but I having a sneaking suspicion if I actually went back and played them today, I’d be in for a rude awakening.

Huh, this seemed a lot more amazing when I was a teenager…

So what’s going to happen when all these gamers get into their forties? Are companies still going to keep making stuff for just a small audience blinded by the nostalgia filter? I don’t think so, or at least I would hope not, considering that’s what the comic industry seems to be doing.

I think the reason Valve hasn’t bothered with the Half-Life series as of lately is because they failed to keep people’s excitement and a lot of them who bought it kinda realized it wasn’t all that great. Even though Half-Life is the very series that made Valve famous to begin with, they don’t seem all that interested in it anymore. The buzz has worn off and most people really don’t care about Half-Life anymore, just the old fans who are still blinded by the nostalgia.

Half-Life 2 sold truckloads and got called game of the decade when it came out. When they released the Orange Box, it was Portal, and to a lesser extent Team Fortress 2, that were the real break away success stories, while not much really happened for the Half-Life series. Valve realized that Half-Life just isn’t the seller it use to be and decided to put it away until such time they figure out how to make it more marketable.

Don’t believe me? Look at what Valve has released since the Orange Box. A million updates to Team Fortress 2, two zombie shooter games called Left for Dead, a stand-alone full price sequel to Portal, and absolutely nothing involving Half-Life. They can’t even be bothered to talk about Half-Life 2: Episode III, which they announced five fucking years ago. Just some vague mentions from Gabe Newell about “broadening the emotional palette” and a return to “genuinely scaring the player”, which is corporate executive speak for “We’ve gotta freshen this piece shit up already, kids just ain’t buying Half-Life like they use to.”

OMGROFLMAOWTFBBQPWNED!!!

Episode III will probably come around the same time as Valve figures out how to make Half-Life 3 seem like an exciting new game that appeals to the youngins the same way Left for Dead and Portal have. Then they’ll know how to curtail Half-Life 2: Episode III to be a lead-in to Half-Life 3, that way they can get the old fans excited about it too. Valve’s not stupid, they wouldn’t waste such a golden marketing opportunity to curry favor with dwindling fans while actually crafting a game for a different and much bigger audience.

For the record, I don’t really care for Metroid Prime, or Halo, or Half-Life, or Portal, or most Sega games… I’m a pretty sad and lonely person. I suppose that was part of my problem though, I missed the damn boat for the later parts of most of these gaming fads. When I went through a weird form of withdrawal after quitting Star Wars Galaxies, I desperately wanted to be part of a community again, so I joined some gaming forums.

I had played video games most of my life, I figured it’d be a natural fit for me. But I couldn’t bring myself to like the same stuff most of them liked. I wasn’t there for when most of this stuff hit it big, so there’s no fond memories for me to wax nostalgic about. I was like one of those creepy old guys trying to use hip hop slang. It was just depressing, and hilarious for people who were not me to watch happen.

I don’t dislike most of the games I mentioned, but they’re just okay to me. Not good, not bad, just okay. My problem is I just got bitter and stubborn a lot sooner than most people. That doesn’t make me right, it just makes me look old. The nostalgia filter works both ways. Me being on the other side of it tends to make me dismissive to a lot of these new games kids like that I just don’t get because I’m old and out of touch. And despite my bitching today, a lot of them will probably be well remembered and played by future generations, but which ones?

That’s the real question I’d liked answered. When pretty much everything is getting rave reviews, it’s kinda hard to tell what really is an exceptional milestone in the medium, and what’s just the current “in” thing. But we probably won’t know what holds together until years and years later. I can tell you critics don’t know, at least not right now they don’t, maybe a decade or so later they will. I’m not just talking about game critics either. It usually takes a lot of time to figure out what’s really timeless and what’s just part of a popular movement.

Did you hear Angry Birds just got its billionth download? Surely that means its awesome, and not just a shamelessly whored out piece of product that celebrates its every arbitrary milestone. Right?

One of my favorite bands in Pink Floyd. A lot of their albums wind up on a lot of lists of the best albums ever these days. But back in the day, a lot of their post Dark Side albums were met with a lot of critical scorn. Wish You Were Here, which today is usually fairly high up a lot of best of lists, got pretty mixed reviews when it first came out. Someone from Rolling Stones Magazine said this:

The potential of the idea [of honoring Syd Barrett] goes unrealized; they give such a matter-of-fact reading of the goddamn thing that they might as well be singing about Roger Waters’s brother-in-law getting a parking ticket.” -Ben Edmunds, 1975

And this guy was far from the only person who didn’t like Wish You Were Here. But now its often considered amongst the best albums ever released. From what I’ve read, The Beatles faced a lot of the same kind of critical scorn when they hit big, as did Led Zeppelin, and bunch other big now critically acclaimed bands. Wikipedia has a whole section for Rolling Stones magazine about how they’ve ignored or even slammed a lot of classic artists only to later admit that they think they were great. Critics are still just people, and people are often pretty damn fickle.

What little we know of Shakespeare suggests he wasn’t all that well received by whatever 16th Century critics were around at the time either. It wasn’t until long after he died his plays really started taking off and people started thinking of him as a brilliant poet and playwright. How many other 16th century plays do you know of that don’t belong to Shakespeare?

In games you got something like the Mario series. It’s going on twenty five years now and it’s still going strong. For his 25th Birthday, Nintendo slapped together a half-assed collector’s edition of Super Mario All-Stars. And I do mean Mario All-Stars, it’s literally the same game as the SNES version, they couldn’t even bother to change the control prompts, or add widescreen, or fix the slow down issue that the original PAL version had. Oh, and wouldn’t you know, it sold out almost right away.

At least in the US it did, I think the U.K. were still (rightfully) sore about Nintendo being too fucking lazy to fix those weird slowdown issues old games use to have for this rerelease. But elsewhere Nintendo actually seemed surprised that the All-Stars rerelease sold so quickly. It was suppose to be a limited edition but they did a second run because demand was so high. Where as poor ol’ Metroid Prime Trilogy was discontinued after only three months because how piss poor its sales were. Probably because a lot of people who had played a Metroid Prime game had since moved on and didn’t care about the series anymore.

Again, like to remind people my sister got this for me because it was on sale at Best Buy for $20. I like to remind people of this, because I’m an asshole.

So what’s my point to all of this? I don’t know, I guess I’m just annoyed anytime I have to listen lunkheads rave on about the next big thing in gaming. Probably because I’m old and bitter. I guess I’m a little bit envious that those kids always seem to be having the time of their lives with seemingly ever big new release and I’m just sitting here bitching about how annoyed I am by it.

If you are one of those people who think they’re in the midst of some gaming renaissance then I recommend you enjoy it, really. Don’t let annoying pricks like me piss over it. Just try to restrain yourself from yelling about how amazing something is mere moments after playing it. Because you might not always feel that way. You’ll get older, things will seem more and more familiar, and there will probably come a point where you find yourself confused to what exactly is it kids are into these days and wondering where did all the games you like went. Believe me, it happens.

I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was. Now what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s it seems weird and scary to me, and it’ll happen to you, too.” -Abraham Simpson

The real irony here is the Simpsons have been on for so long that older fans can’t relate to the episodes younger fans like. Isn’t that crazy?

One response to “Today’s Splendor is Tomorrow’s Nostalgia

  1. John Weeren May 21, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    Good post. Amusing read. :)

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